My family wasn’t officially a military family until two years ago when my son swore into the Air Force. But like military families, we moved frequently.
Well, kind of.
As a contractor, my husband traveled often and as a homeschooling family, we’d frequently join him. That meant leaving our home for months at a time and eventually packing up and moving on. While we were often together as a family, we were uprooted often. We would travel to places like Virginia Beach, Atlanta, Knoxville, and Huntsville, Alabama. We spent a lot of time in and out of hotel rooms, in temporary apartments and finally, in an RV.
We may not have had the typical “back to school” challenges that many families face, but packing up and moving every week or two and heading to a new hotel room wasn’t as glamorous as it may sound. It was disruptive to our schedule. We missed our home. We missed our family and friends. And starting over in a new place certainly wasn’t easy.
These things made it easier for us.
Plug in quickly.
As soon as I knew we were heading to a new area, I’d research homeschool groups, classes, and activities. I made it a point to get my kids involved somewhere in something. Since we often traveled to areas with large military communities, we were readily welcomed and accepted for as long as we were in the area. Sometimes this was a matter of weeks or months, other times it was over a year.
Stick to your Schedule (as much as possible)
As a homeschool family, we had a lot of flexibility, but it was also easy for everything to get out of whack in the upheaval. Schedules kept me sane and gave my kids a very important sense of order and balance in a sometimes crazy situation.
Keep in Touch
We tried our best to keep in touch with family and friends “back home”. The kids could text and email friends and play Xbox with friends over Xbox Live. With today’s technology, staying in touch is easier than ever. When my son was in tech school, we’d talk via Skype and FaceTime.
At home, I had shelves full of books and supplementary teaching tools. When traveling, we packed the essentials for on the road studies and supplemented with lots of field trips and online classes. This worked really well. My kids were able to learn from teacher’s that were passionate about their subjects and it gave me a break.
Make the Most of your Time at each Destination
Ideally, we should do this everywhere but sadly, we don’t. We made the most of everywhere we went. We focused on relationships with others and though it was difficult to leave, we now have lifelong friends all over the country.
Family is a priority.
When my husband was not working, we’d be intentional about the time we spent together. If my husband took time off on the weekend, you’d find us relaxing on the beach, hiking in the mountains or exploring local museums and attractions as a family.
We also spent a lot of time conversing with our children- about everything. I’ve always told them that nothing was off limits. I’d talk honestly about anything they wanted to talk about.
My kids will say that we’ve moved 13 times in ten years- I say we only officially moved three, but we survived. And as crazy as it sounds, my family learned to thrive in situations that were not always ideal. I attribute our closeness to the many experiences we’ve had traveling. So if you think family travel is not important, I urge you to reconsider.
My children are now grown and we’re faced with a whole new onslaught of challenges as we try to schedule travel around work hours, college schedules, and deployments. It simply means that those trips we take together are even more important now.
On August 21st, TownePlace Suites and TravelingMom.com are hosting a #TMOM Twitter party on the Challenge of Back to School (with focus on #MilitaryMonday). We’d love for you to join us! Did I mention there are prizes? Follow the directions on the widget below to RSVP for your chance to win.
Now that you’ve heard my story, how do you fit in travel when the kids go back to school? What challenges do you face?